No matter what, you should always find time for creative endeavours… or, at the very least, make time for doing things that make you happy (unless you’re a serial killer—in that case, this pep-talk isn’t aimed at you).
I know this sounds obvious—there are a tonne of pithy quotes about living life to the fullest that we all recognise and identify with—but given the gazillion things most of us have going on, sometimes we need a little reminder… and that kick up the arse is usually an unpleasant breaking point.
Still, there’s something to be said for a good old-fashioned melt-down. I’m not talking about a clinically diagnosed, pill popping crisis (they’re a different beast entirely—one that needs more than just a comforting cuddle and a tub of ice-cream). I’m talking about those mini-melt-downs in life where you’ve been trying to spin an entire dinner-set of plates, you lose concentration, one slips and before you know it, the sound of breaking crockery fills the empty room—along with your wailing sobs of defeat and dejection.
It happened to me recently. Obviously, I’m speaking metaphorically. I’m not a literal plate-spinner—unless the husband has said something controversial during that ‘time of the month’ and I’m launching his dinner out the back door like a frisbee throwing champion.
This time, I had more plates spinning than were comfortable when a final, rather large-sized drama-dish, was handed to me, and I dropped the lot.
In the aftermath, beyond Mum/Wife and working the day-job I struggled to find time to do anything else; writing had already been on the backburner for a few weeks because, like all good multitaskers, I’d prioritised my workload. And, I felt like a double failure for it.
However, being a silver-lining kind of girl, with all crap-tastic events I like to dissect and understand the ‘what went wrongs’ so I can implement damage control for future mishaps… or at least try. Given my Dory-like-memory, it often takes a good few melt-downs before a pattern emerges.
And so, in a pool of tears and snot, an ‘Ah ha!’ moment was finally unveiled.
As I don’t possess the finesses or spiritual intellect of a shamanic guru, it wasn’t a particularly prophetic moment. And it certainly wasn’t anything that would lead me to avoid any challenges in the future—we don’t live in a bubble and life will always have its tricks. But it did make me realise a few home-truths about my (metaphorical) plate-spinning:
- I am a master at pulling excuses from my behind.
- I cannot control anything beyond me.
For a lot of writers, trying to commit words to paper whilst multi-tasking another half-dozen different life roles can be tough. So-much-so, there are times when priorities get ranked, and reading a book or writing fiction slips down the ladder of importance.
After all, we need to eat and fulfil our commitments to others; so, we put practicalities first and the pursuit of personal pleasures later.
I’d justified my no-show at the writing desk with the lack of time. I’d prioritised, and still been unable to cope with life lobbying its bricks-of-trouble at me. My knee-jerk reaction was to concede defeat and admit that I lacked the skills and tenacity of a real writer.
Codswallop. Real writers learn from mistakes and move on. They don’t wallow in the stinky pot of self-pity. None of us can change external forces… unless you’re Superman. Shit happens to us all.
But when you’ve skimmed all the fun of life to make time for the necessities and your plates (inevitably) come crashing down, there’s only one place you’re headed for destination despair.
How do we avoid it, or, at the very least cushion its landing?
By fulfilling those creative pleasures. What’s life if we’re too preoccupied in the mundane and stressful? Things will always go wrong; the car will break down; your health won’t always be tiptop; people will let you down and your relationships won’t always be the concrete pillars you thought they were.
Don’t wait for that rare moment of calmness to do the things you love. It’s likely to never come. You have to make time—even for just a few minutes a day. It won’t change things you’ve no control over, but it will make the moments between a hell of a lot sweeter.
Life is short, live it well. And spin those plates without worry—breakages can always be fixed.
Rita writes dark romantic urban fantasy novels set in the UK. A 2016 finalist in the Linda Howard Award of Excellence for Unpublished writers, she loves nothing more than to create witty and flawed characters with difficult choices and destinies.
Rita a military wife now finally lives in Somerset, in the South West of England.
Having worked in care, education, catering and retail, Rita finally found her dream day job at a library. In between helping borrowers and running groups for children, she spends most of her time trying to sneak-in quick reads at the sci-fi, fantasy, romance and YA sections.
Like most people, Rita has hobbies and interests (it’s safe to say, writing about herself in the third person isn’t one of them); when she’s not working, writing, reading and reminding Rita delves into music and art: listening to an eclectic mix of genres on her iPod, annoying her family with her terrible renditions of Debussy and Bach on the piano, and scrolling through illustrations and paintings.